Self-Presentational Congruence and Psychosocial Adjustment: A Test of Three Models
People regularly monitor and control the impressions others form of them but differ in the degree to which they both convey impressions that are consistent with their private self-views (self-presentational congruence) and present different images of themselves to different targets (self-presentational variability). Based on three models described in the literature, variability and incongruence were hypothesized to be either negatively, positively, or curvilinearly related to psychological and social well-being. Three studies examined the self-reported psychosocial implications of self-presentational congruence and variability—assessed by the impressions participants desired to make on nine targets in their lives (Study 1a), a behavioral measure of video-recorded self-presentations to bogus targets (Study 1b), and self-reported self-presentational variability and congruence in people’s daily interactions with targets in their lives (Study 2). Overall, the results supported the first two hypotheses—showing both positive and negative relationships between congruence/variability and well-being—but not the third hypothesis. Participants who desired or actually conveyed more congruent self-presentations reported greater psychosocial well-being. Participants who tried to be perceived differently across their everyday interactions—particularly with distant targets—reported lower psychosocial well-being and less positive social interactions as well; such variability also showed accelerating or decelerating effects at particularly low and high levels for some outcomes. In addition, some support was obtained for the psychosocial benefits of variability with reasonably congruent self-presentations, and even benefits for incongruence at times. Thus, both self-presentational congruence and self-presentational variability are associated with immediate and general positive psychosocial outcomes.
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